Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous syndrome, including emphysema and airway disease. Phenotypes defined on the basis of chest computed tomography (CT) may decrease disease heterogeneity and aid in the identification of candidate genes for COPD subtypes. To identify these genes, we performed genome-wide linkage analysis in extended pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, stratified by emphysema status (defined by chest CT scans) of the probands, followed by genetic association analysis of positional candidate genes. A region on chromosome 1p showed strong evidence of linkage to lung function traits in families of emphysema-predominant probands in the stratified analysis (LOD score = 2.99 in families of emphysema-predominant probands versus 1.98 in all families). Association analysis in 949 individuals from 127 early-onset COPD pedigrees revealed association for COPD-related traits with an intronic single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in transforming growth factor-β receptor-3 (TGFBR3) (P = 0.005). This SNP was significantly associated with COPD affection status comparing 389 cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial to 472 control smokers (P = 0.04), and with FEV1 (P = 0.004) and CT emphysema (P = 0.05) in 3,117 subjects from the International COPD Genetics Network. Gene-level replication of association with lung function was seen in 427 patients with COPD from the Lung Health Study. In conclusion, stratified linkage analysis followed by association testing identified TGFBR3 (betaglycan) as a potential susceptibility gene for COPD. Published human microarray and murine linkage studies have also demonstrated the importance of TGFBR3 in emphysema and lung function, and our group and others have previously found association of COPD-related traits with TGFB1, a ligand for TGFBR3.
betaglycan; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; computed tomography; linkage; single nucleotide polymorphism
Rationale: Computed tomography (CT) scanning of the lung may reduce phenotypic heterogeneity in defining subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and allow identification of genetic determinants of emphysema severity and distribution.
Objectives: We sought to identify genes associated with CT scan distribution of emphysema in individuals without α1-antitrypsin deficiency but with severe COPD.
Methods: We evaluated baseline CT densitometry phenotypes in 282 individuals with emphysema enrolled in the Genetics Ancillary Study of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, and used regression models to identify genetic variants associated with emphysema distribution.
Measurements and Main Results: Emphysema distribution was assessed by two methods—assessment by radiologists and by computerized density mask quantitation, using a threshold of −950 Hounsfield units. A total of 77 polymorphisms in 20 candidate genes were analyzed for association with distribution of emphysema. GSTP1, EPHX1, and MMP1 polymorphisms were associated with the densitometric, apical-predominant distribution of emphysema (p value range = 0.001–0.050). When an apical-predominant phenotype was defined by the radiologist scoring method, GSTP1 and EPHX1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were found to be significantly associated. In a case–control analysis of COPD susceptibility limited to cases with densitometric upper-lobe–predominant cases, the EPHX1 His139Arg single-nucleotide polymorphism was associated with COPD (p = 0.005).
Conclusions: Apical and basal emphysematous destruction appears to be influenced by different genes. Polymorphisms in the xenobiotic enzymes, GSTP1 and EPHX1, are associated with apical-predominant emphysema. Altered detoxification of cigarette smoke metabolites may contribute to emphysema distribution, and these findings may lead to further insight into genetic determinants of emphysema.
COPD; genetics; association analysis; computed tomography; emphysema
Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), characterized by airflow limitation, is a disorder with high phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity. Pulmonary emphysema is a major but variable component of COPD; familial data suggest that different components of COPD, such as emphysema, may be influenced by specific genetic factors.
Objectives: To identify genetic determinants of emphysema assessed through high-resolution chest computed tomography in individuals with COPD.
Methods: We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of emphysema determined from chest computed tomography scans with a total of 2,380 individuals with COPD in three independent cohorts of white individuals from (1) a cohort from Bergen, Norway, (2) the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) Study, and (3) the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT). We tested single-nucleotide polymorphism associations with the presence or absence of emphysema determined by radiologist assessment in two of the three cohorts and a quantitative emphysema trait (percentage of lung voxels less than –950 Hounsfield units) in all three cohorts.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified association of a single-nucleotide polymorphism in BICD1 with the presence or absence of emphysema (P = 5.2 × 10−7 with at least mild emphysema vs. control subjects; P = 4.8 × 10−8 with moderate and more severe emphysema vs. control subjects).
Conclusions: Our study suggests that genetic variants in BICD1 are associated with qualitative emphysema in COPD. Variants in BICD1 are associated with length of telomeres, which suggests that a mechanism linked to accelerated aging may be involved in the pathogenesis of emphysema.
Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00292552).
emphysema; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; BICD1; single-nucleotide polymorphism
The principal determining factors influencing the development of the airway disease and emphysema components of COPD have not been clearly defined. Genetic variability in COPD patients might influence the varying degrees of involvement of airway disease and emphysema. Therefore, we investigated genetic association of SNPs in COPD candidate genes for association with emphysema severity and airway wall thickness phenotypes.
Polymorphisms in six candidate genes were analyzed in 379 subjects of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) Genetics Ancillary Study with quantitative chest CT data. Genetic association with percent of lung below −950 hounsfield units (LAA950), airway wall thickness (WT), and derived square root wall area of 10 mm internal perimeter airways (SRWA) were investigated.
Three SNPs in EPHX1, five SNPs in SERPINE2, and one SNP in GSTP1 were significantly associated with LAA950. Five SNPs in TGFB1, two SNPs in EPHX1, one SNP in SERPINE2, and two SNPs in ADRB2 were associated with airway wall phenotypes in NETT.
In conclusion, several COPD candidate genes showed evidence for association with airway wall thickness and emphysema severity using CT in a severe COPD population. Further investigation will be required to replicate these genetic associations for emphysema and airway wall phenotypes.
Airway; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; computed tomography; emphysema; genetic association
SERPINE2 (serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade E, member 2) has previously been identified as a positional candidate gene for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has subsequently been associated to COPD and emphysema in several populations. We aimed to further examine the role of SERPINE2 polymorphisms in the development of pulmonary emphysema and different emphysema subtypes.
Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SERPINE2 were analyzed from 951 clinically and radiologically examined Finnish construction workers. The genotype and haplotype data was compared to different emphysematous signs confirmed with high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), diffusing capacity (DLCO), and specific diffusing capacity (DLCO/VA).
Three of the studied SERPINE2 SNPs (rs729631, rs975278, and rs6748795) were found to be in tight linkage disequilibrium. Therefore, only one of these SNPs (rs729631) was included in the subsequent analyses, in addition to the rs840088 SNP which was in moderate linkage with the other three studied SNPs. The rs729631 SNP showed a significant association with panlobular emphysema (p = 0.003). In further analysis, the variant allele of the rs729631 SNP was found to pose over two-fold risk (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.05-4.72) for overall panlobular changes and over four-fold risk (OR 4.37, 95% CI 1.61-11.86) for pathological panlobular changes. A haplotype consisting of variant alleles of both rs729631 and rs840088 SNPs was found to pose an almost four-fold risk for overall panlobular (OR 3.72, 95% CI 1.56-8.90) and subnormal (OR 3.98, 95% CI 1.55-10.20) emphysema.
Our results support the previously found association between SERPINE2 polymorphisms and pulmonary emphysema. As a novel finding, our study suggests that the SERPINE2 gene may in particular be involved in the development of panlobular changes, i.e., the same type of changes that are involved in alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) -deficiency.
Hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and pulmonary arterial hypertension are known complications of advanced COPD. We sought to identify genetic polymorphisms associated with these traits in a population of patients with severe COPD from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT).
In 389 participants from the NETT Genetics Ancillary Study, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in five candidate genes previously associated with COPD susceptibility (EPHX1, SERPINE2, SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1). Linear regression models were used to test for associations among these SNPs and three quantitative COPD-related traits (Pao2, Paco2, and pulmonary artery systolic pressure). Genes associated with hypoxemia were tested for replication in probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
In the NETT Genetics Ancillary Study population, SNPs in microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1) [p = 0.01 to 0.04] and serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade E, member 2 (SERPINE2) [p = 0.04 to 0.008] were associated with hypoxemia. One SNP within surfactant protein B (SFTPB) was associated with pulmonary artery systolic pressure (p = 0.01). In probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, SNPs in EPHX1 and in SERPINE2 were associated with the requirement for supplemental oxygen.
In participants with severe COPD, SNPs in EPHX1 and SERPINE2 were associated with hypoxemia in two separate study populations, and SNPs from SFTPB were associated with pulmonary artery pressure in the NETT participants.
case-control studies; COPD; genetics; phenotype; single-nucleotide polymorphism
Airflow limitation in COPD patients is not fully reversible. However, there may be large variability in bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) among COPD patients, and familial aggregation of BDR suggests a genetic component. Therefore we investigated the association between six candidate genes and BDR in subjects with severe COPD. A total of 389 subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) were analyzed. Bronchodilator responsiveness to albuterol was expressed in three ways: absolute change in FEV1, change in FEV1 as a percent of baseline FEV1, and change in FEV1 as a percent of predicted FEV1. Genotyping was completed for 122 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six candidate genes (EPHX1, SFTPB, TGFB1, SERPINE2, GSTP1, ADRB2). Associations between BDR phenotypes and SNP genotypes were tested using linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, and height. Genes associated with BDR phenotypes in the NETT subjects were assessed for replication in 127 pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD (EOCOPD) Study. Three SNPs in EPHX1 (p = 0.009 – 0.04), three SNPs in SERPINE2 (p = 0.004 – 0.05) and two SNPs in ADRB2 (0.04 – 0.05) were significantly associated with BDR phenotypes in NETT subjects. BDR. One SNP in EPHX1 (rs1009668, p = 0.04) was significantly replicated in EOCOPD subjects. SNPs in SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1 genes were not associated with BDR. In conclusion, a polymorphism of EPHX1 was associated with bronchodilator responsiveness phenotypes in subjects with severe COPD.
bronchodilator responsiveness; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetics; association analysis
COPD exacerbations reduce quality of life and increase mortality. Genetic variation may explain the substantial variability seen in exacerbation frequency among COPD subjects with similar lung function. We analyzed whether polymorphisms in five candidate genes previously associated with COPD susceptibility also demonstrate association with COPD exacerbations.
Eighty-eight single nucleotide polymorphisms in microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFB1), SERPINE2, glutathione S-transferase pi (GSTP1), and surfactant protein B (SFTPB) were genotyped in 389 non-Hispanic white participants in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial. Exacerbations were defined as COPD-related emergency room visits or hospitalizations using Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims data.
Measurements and Main Results
216 subjects (56%) experienced one or more exacerbations during the study period. An SFTPB promoter polymorphism, rs3024791, was associated with COPD exacerbations (p=0.008). Logistic regression models confirmed the association with rs3024791 (p = 0.007). Poisson regression models demonstrated association of multiple SFTPB SNPs with exacerbation rates: rs2118177 (p = 0.006), rs2304566 (p = 0.002), rs1130866 (p = 0.04), and rs3024791 (p = 0.002). Polymorphisms in EPHX1, GSTP1, TGFB1, and SERPINE2 did not demonstrate association with COPD exacerbations.
Variants in SFTPB are associated with COPD susceptibility and COPD exacerbation frequency.
association analysis; COPD; exacerbations; genetics; surfactant protein B; single nucleotide polymorphisms
Severe α1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a proven genetic risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially in individuals who smoke. There is marked variability in the development of lung disease in individuals homozygous (PI ZZ) for this autosomal recessive condition, suggesting that modifier genes could be important. We hypothesized that genetic determinants of obstructive lung disease may be modifiers of airflow obstruction in individuals with severe AAT deficiency. To identify modifier genes, we performed family-based association analyses for 10 genes previously associated with asthma and/or COPD, including IL10, TNF, GSTP1, NOS1, NOS3, SERPINA3, SERPINE2, SFTPB, TGFB1, and EPHX1. All analyses were performed in a cohort of 378 PI ZZ individuals from 167 families. Quantitative spirometric phenotypes included forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC). A qualitative phenotype of moderate-to-severe COPD was defined for individuals with FEV1 ⩽ 50 percent predicted. Six of 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL10 (P = 0.0005–0.05) and 3 of 5 SNPs in TNF (P = 0.01–0.05) were associated with FEV1 and/or FEV1/FVC. IL10 SNPs also demonstrated association with the qualitative COPD phenotype. When phenotypes of individuals with a physician's diagnosis of asthma were excluded, IL10 SNPs remained significantly associated, suggesting that the association with airflow obstruction was independent of an association with asthma. Haplotype analysis of IL10 SNPs suggested the strongest association with IL10 promoter SNPs. IL10 is likely an important modifier gene for the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic modifiers; interleukin 10; family-based association analysis
The predominant emphysema phenotype is associated with more severe airflow limitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to investigate whether COPD patients, with or without emphysema quantitatively confirmed by high resolution computed tomography (HRCT), have different COPD severity as assessed by the BODE index (body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnoea, exercise performance) and inspiratory capacity to total lung capacity ratio (IC/TLC), and by different biological markers of lung parenchymal destruction.
Twenty six outpatients with COPD and eight healthy non‐smokers were examined. Each subject underwent HRCT scanning, pulmonary function tests, cell counts, and measurements of neutrophil elastase, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‐9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)‐1 in induced sputum, as well as measurement of desmosine, a marker of elastin degradation in urine, plasma and sputum.
Patients with HRCT confirmed emphysema had a higher BODE index and lower IC/TLC ratio than subjects without HRCT confirmed emphysema and controls. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio, and carbon monoxide transfer coefficient were lower, whereas the number of eosinophils, MMP‐9, and the MMP‐9/TIMP‐1 ratio in sputum were higher in patients with emphysema. In COPD patients the number of sputum eosinophils was the biological variable that correlated positively with the HRCT score of emphysema (p = 0.04).
These results suggest that COPD associated with HRCT confirmed emphysema is characterised by more severe lung function impairment, more intense airway inflammation and, possibly, more serious systemic dysfunction than COPD not associated with HRCT confirmed emphysema.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; biological markers; outcomes
Surfactant protein D (SFTPD) induces emphysema in knockout mice, but the association of SFTPD with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema in humans is unclear. Therefore, we aimed to determine the association between genetic variations in SFTPD and susceptibility to COPD and emphysema.
Two populations were studied: population A comprised 270 smokers, including 188 COPD and 82 at-risk subjects, and population B comprised 1131 autopsy cases including 160 cases with emphysema. Six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that tagged the linkage disequilibrium blocks on the entire SFTPD gene were genotyped; the associations of the genotypes with COPD, pulmonary function, percentage of the low-attenuation area (LAA%), and percentage of the airway wall area (WA%) were determined in population A. In population B, the associations of the genotypes with emphysema were assessed.
A C allele at SNP rs721917 that results in the replacement of Met with Thr at position 11 in SFTPD was positively correlated with the LAA% in the upper lung (P=1.1 × 10−5) and overall LAA% (P=1.0 × 10−4), and negatively correlated with the serum concentration of SFTPD (P=7 × 10−11) in the population A. The C/C (rs721917/rs10887199) haplotype was associated with emphysema in both the populations.
Subjects with a C allele at rs721917 have a lower serum SFTPD concentration and are more susceptible to emphysema. This suggests a protective effect of SFTPD against COPD and emphysema.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; genetic variation; pulmonary surfactant-associated protein D
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disease that is characterized by chronic airflow limitation. Unraveling of this heterogeneity is challenging but important, because it might enable more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Because spirometry cannot distinguish between the different contributing pathways of airflow limitation, and visual scoring is time-consuming and prone to observer variability, other techniques are sought to start this phenotyping process. Quantitative computed tomography (CT) is a promising technique, because current CT technology is able to quantify emphysema, air trapping, and large airway wall dimensions. This review focuses on CT quantification techniques of COPD disease components and their current status and role in phenotyping COPD.
Computed tomography; Airway remodeling; Pulmonary emphysema; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Quantitative CT
COPDGeneis a multicenter observational study designed to identify genetic factors associated with COPD. It will also characterize chest CT phenotypes in COPD subjects, including assessment of emphysema, gas trapping, and airway wall thickening. Finally, subtypes of COPD based on these phenotypes will be used in a comprehensive genome-wide study to identify COPD susceptibility genes.
COPDGene will enroll 10,000 smokers with and without COPD across the GOLD stages. Both Non-Hispanic white and African-American subjects are included in the cohort. Inspiratory and expiratory chest CT scans will be obtained on all participants. In addition to the cross-sectional enrollment process, these subjects will be followed regularly for longitudinal studies. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) will be done on an initial group of 4000 subjects to identify genetic variants associated with case-control status and several quantitative phenotypes related to COPD. The initial findings will be verified in an additional 2000 COPD cases and 2000 smoking control subjects, and further validation association studies will be carried out.
COPDGene will provide important new information about genetic factors in COPD, and will characterize the disease process using high resolution CT scans. Understanding genetic factors and CT phenotypes that define COPD will potentially permit earlier diagnosis of this disease and may lead to the development of treatments to modify progression.
Diary cards are useful for analyzing exacerbations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), although factors influencing the length and frequency of each episode are poorly understood. This study investigated factors that influence the features of exacerbations in patients with alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency (PiZ phenotype) and COPD.
Daily diary cards were collected over 2 years. Patients had emphysema visualized and quantified by computed tomography scan, and had at least one documented exacerbation in the previous year.
The patients (n = 23) had a mean age of 52.5 years, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 1.2 L (38.4% predicted), corrected gas transfer (KCO) of 0.90 mmol/min/kPa/L (59.7% predicted), and 15th percentile lung density of 44.55 g/L. Two hundred and sixty-three exacerbations (164 treated) were identified. The frequency of treated exacerbations correlated negatively with KCO% predicted (r = −0.432; P = 0.022). Exacerbation length (determined for 17 of the patients for whom diary card data through the episode were available) correlated negatively with baseline 15th percentile lung density (r = −0.361; P = 0.003), and increased the longer treatment was delayed (r = 0.503; P < 0.001). Treatment delay was shorter with higher day 1 symptom score, lower baseline FEV1, FEV1/forced vital capacity, and lower 15th percentile lung density (r = −0.368, 0.272, 0.461, and 0.786; P = 0.004, 0.036, <0.001, and <0.001, respectively). Time to resolution of exacerbation after treatment initiation was not affected by treatment delay, but correlated negatively with KCO% predicted (r = −0.647; P = 0.007).
In alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, the frequency and length of resolution of exacerbation were related to baseline gas transfer. Treatment delay adversely affected exacerbation length, and lung density was the best independent predictor of delay in starting treatment.
alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; antibiotic; exacerbation; gas transfer; lung density; lung function
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exhibit dominant features of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and/or asthma, with a common phenotype of airflow obstruction. COPD pulmonary physiology reflects the sum of pathological changes in COPD, which can occur in large central airways, small peripheral airways, and the lung parenchyma. Quantitative or high-resolution computed tomography is used as a surrogate measure for assessment of disease progression. Different biological or molecular markers have been reported that reflect the mechanistic or pathogenic triad of inflammation, proteases, and oxidants and correspond to the different aspects of COPD histopathology. Similar to the pathogenic triad markers, genetic variations or polymorphisms have also been linked to COPD-associated inflammation, protease–antiprotease imbalance, and oxidative stress. Furthermore, in recent years, there have been reports identifying aging-associated mechanistic markers as downstream consequences of the pathogenic triad in the lungs from COPD patients. For this review, the authors have limited their discussion to a review of mechanistic markers and genetic variations and their association with COPD histopathology and disease status.
senescence; apoptosis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; bronchitis; emphysema
Airflow limitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is caused by a mixture of small airway disease and emphysema, the relative contributions of which may vary among patients. Phenotypes of COPD classified purely based on severity of emphysema are not well defined and may be different from the classic phenotypes of “pink puffers” and “blue bloaters”.
To characterise clinical phenotypes based on severity of emphysema, 274 subjects with COPD were recruited, excluding those with physician‐diagnosed bronchial asthma. For all subjects a detailed interview of disease history and symptoms, quality of life (QOL) measurement, blood sampling, pulmonary function tests before and after inhalation of salbutamol (0.4 mg) and high‐resolution CT scanning were performed.
Severity of emphysema visually evaluated varied widely even among subjects with the same stage of disease. No significant differences were noted among three groups of subjects classified by severity of emphysema in age, smoking history, chronic bronchitis symptoms, blood eosinophil count, serum IgE level or bronchodilator response. However, subjects with severe emphysema had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) and poorer QOL scores, evaluated using St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), than those with no/mild emphysema (mean (SD) BMI 21.2 (0.5) vs 23.5 (0.3) kg/m2, respectively; SGRQ total score 40 (3) vs 28 (2), respectively; p<0.001 for both). These characteristics held true even if subjects with the same degree of airflow limitation were chosen.
The severity of emphysema varies widely even in patients with the same stage of COPD, and chronic bronchitis symptoms are equally distributed irrespective of emphysema severity. Patients with the phenotype in which emphysema predominates have lower BMI and poorer health‐related QOL.
Since the discovery of alpha-1 antitrypsin in the early 1960s, several new genes have been suggested to play a role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) pathogenesis. Yet, in spite of those advances, much about the genetic basis of COPD still remains to be discovered. Unbiased approaches, such as genome-wide association (GWA) studies, are critical to identify genes and pathways and to verify suggested genetic variants. Indeed, most of our current understanding about COPD candidate genes originates from GWA studies. Experiments in form of cross-study replications and advanced meta-analyses have propelled the field towards unravelling details about COPD's pathogenesis. Here, we review the discovery of genetic variants in association with COPD phenotypes by discussing the available approaches and current findings. Limitations of current studies are considered and future directions provided.
COPD; genes; genetics; genome-wide association studies; obstructive pulmonary disease
Assessment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is important to establish an accurate diagnosis, assist in making therapeutic decisions, measuring outcomes for clinical and research purposes, and determining prognosis. Chest computed tomography (CT) scans are useful in patients who present with airflow limitation and clinical features suggestive of COPD but in whom other diagnoses are being considered. In such cases, a chest CT may indicate another diagnosis. The amount and distribution of emphysema can identify outcomes from lung volume reduction surgery, and chest CT scans are mandatory in assessment of patients for this surgery. Quantitative parameters from chest CT scans have been used to define longitudinal progression of disease. Assessment of patients with COPD for both clinical and research purposes should incorporate a variety of different outcomes. There are outcome measures that have been successfully incorporated in large clinical trials, and the design and outcomes of these trials can be used to plan future clinical investigations in COPD.
chest computed tomography scan; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; outcomes; health status; exercise capacity
Rationale: Patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may have varying levels of disability despite similar levels of lung function. This variation may reflect different COPD subtypes, which may have different genetic predispositions.
Objectives: To identify genetic associations for COPD-related phenotypes, including measures of exercise capacity, pulmonary function, and respiratory symptoms.
Methods: In 304 subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, we genotyped 80 markers in 22 positional and/or biologically plausible candidate genes. Regression models were used to test for association, using a test–replication approach to guard against false-positive results. For significant associations, effect estimates were recalculated using the entire cohort. Positive associations with dyspnea were confirmed in families from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
Results: The test–replication approach identified four genes—microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1), latent transforming growth factor-β binding protein-4 (LTBP4), surfactant protein B (SFTPB), and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGFB1)—that were associated with COPD-related phenotypes. In all subjects, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in EPHX1 (p ⩽ 0.03) and in LTBP4 (p ⩽ 0.03) were associated with maximal output on cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Markers in LTBP4 (p ⩽ 0.05) and SFTPB (p = 0.005) were associated with 6-min walk test distance. SNPs in EPHX1 were associated with carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (p ⩽ 0.04). Three SNPs in TGFB1 were associated with dyspnea (p ⩽ 0.002), one of which replicated in the family study (p = 0.02).
Conclusions: Polymorphisms in several genes seem to be associated with COPD-related traits other than FEV1. These associations may identify genes in pathways important for COPD pathogenesis.
dyspnea; emphysema; exercise tolerance; genetic association; pulmonary function tests
High-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) has allowed in detection of airway wall abnormalities and emphysema, whose extent may correlate with the clinical severity of the disease in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Six minute walk test (6MWT) and cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) can determine functional status.
A study was undertaken to investigate whether the extent of emphysema in COPD patients quantitatively confirmed by HRCT scoring was associated with distance walked, inspiratory capacity (IC) changes after exercise, anaerobic threshold of cardiopulmonary exercise and the BODE index (body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea, exercise performance).
Seventeen patients with COPD underwent HRCT scanning, 6MWT and CPET. The emphysema score was highly correlated to forced vital capacity (FVC) (r=-0.748, p<0.001), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) (r=-0.615, p<0.01), IC post exercise (r=-0.663, p<0.01) and dyspnea score post exercise (r=0.609, p<0.01), but was not associated with the BODE index. The distance walked during 6MWT was inversely correlated to emphysema score (r=-0.557, p<0.05). IC before exercise was highly related to the 6MWT. The change in IC after exercise was associated with the percent decline of oxygen saturation after exercise (r=0.633, p<0.01). Severity of lung emphysema in COPD patients was inversely correlated to VO2 max (r=-0.514, p<0.05) and anaerobic threshold (r=-0.595, p<0.01) of cardiopulmonary exercise.
These results suggest that COPD associated with emphysema on HRCT is characterized by more severe lung function impairment, greater exercise impairment and cardiopulmonary dysfunction.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; High-resolution computed tomography; Six-minute walk test; cardiopulmonary exercise test; Inspiratory capacity.
Factors determining the shape of the human rib cage are not completely understood. We aimed to quantify the contribution of anthropometric and COPD-related changes to rib cage variability in adult cigarette smokers.
Rib cage diameters and areas (calculated from the inner surface of the rib cage) in 816 smokers with or without COPD, were evaluated at three anatomical levels using computed tomography (CT). CTs were analyzed with software, which allows quantification of total emphysema (emphysema%). The relationship between rib cage measurements and anthropometric factors, lung function indices, and %emphysema were tested using linear regression models.
A model that included gender, age, BMI, emphysema%, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)%, and forced vital capacity (FVC)% fit best with the rib cage measurements (R2 = 64% for the rib cage area variation at the lower anatomical level). Gender had the biggest impact on rib cage diameter and area (105.3 cm2; 95% CI: 111.7 to 98.8 for male lower area). Emphysema% was responsible for an increase in size of upper and middle CT areas (up to 5.4 cm2; 95% CI: 3.0 to 7.8 for an emphysema increase of 5%). Lower rib cage areas decreased as FVC% decreased (5.1 cm2; 95% CI: 2.5 to 7.6 for 10 percentage points of FVC variation).
This study demonstrates that simple CT measurements can predict rib cage morphometric variability and also highlight relationships between rib cage morphometry and emphysema.
Spirometric parameters are the mainstay for diagnosis of COPD, but cannot distinguish airway obstruction from emphysema. We aimed to develop a computer model that quantifies airway collapse on forced expiratory flow–volume loops. We then explored and validated the relationship of airway collapse with computed tomography (CT) diagnosed emphysema in two large independent cohorts.
A computer model was developed in 513 Caucasian individuals with ≥15 pack-years who performed spirometry, diffusion capacity and CT scans to quantify emphysema presence. The model computed the two best fitting regression lines on the expiratory phase of the flow-volume loop and calculated the angle between them. The collapse was expressed as an Angle of collapse (AC) which was then correlated with the presence of emphysema. Findings were validated in an independent group of 340 individuals.
AC in emphysema subjects (N = 251) was significantly lower (131° ± 14°) compared to AC in subjects without emphysema (N = 223), (152° ± 10°) (p < 0.0001). Multivariate regression analysis revealed AC as best indicator of visually scored emphysema (R2 = 0.505, p < 0.0001) with little significant contribution of KCO, %predicted and FEV1, %predicted to the total model (total R2 = 0.626, p < 0.0001). Similar associations were obtained when using CT-automated density scores for emphysema assessment. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves pointed to 131° as the best cut-off for emphysema (95.5% positive predictive value, 97% specificity and 51% sensitivity). Validation in a second group confirmed the significant difference in mean AC between emphysema and non-emphysema subjects. When applying the 131° cut-off, a positive predictive value of 95.6%, a specificity of 96% and a sensitivity of 59% were demonstrated.
Airway collapse on forced expiration quantified by a computer model correlates with emphysema. An AC below 131° can be considered as a specific cut-off for predicting the presence of emphysema in heavy smokers.
Spirometry; Pulmonary emphysema; Flow-volume loops; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Lung collapse
To determine whether the self-reported diagnosis of adults who present to the emergency department (ED) with an acute exacerbation of either asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is validated by medical record review.
This is cross-sectional study of 78 consecutive adults, 55 years and older, presenting to 3 EDs with symptoms suggestive of an exacerbation of asthma or COPD. We used current spirometric guidelines for a “spirometrically validated” diagnosis of COPD (eg, postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced ventilatory capacity b70%). Patients without office spirometry result were classified with COPD using clinical validation based on at least one of the following: primary care physician diagnosis of COPD, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema in the medical record or chest radiography, chest computed tomography, or arterial blood gas (ABG) diagnostic of COPD.
Among 60 patients who self-reported diagnosis of COPD, 98% (95% confidence interval, 89-100) had clinically validated or spirometrically validated COPD. In addition, 83% (95% confidence interval, 59-96) of patients who reported either asthma only or no respiratory disease had clinically validated or spirometrically validated COPD. In no case was the chest radiograph or the ABG useful as a stand-alone test in establishing the diagnosis of COPD.
Patients 55 years and older presenting to the ED with acute asthma or COPD, even those with clinical symptoms but no diagnosis of COPD, are likely to have COPD. Clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for COPD when older asthma patients deny COPD.
The value of quantitative computed tomography (QCT) to identify chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) phenotypes is increasingly appreciated. We hypothesized that QCT-defined emphysema and airway abnormalities relate to St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and BODE.
1,200 COPDGene subjects meeting GOLD criteria for COPD with QCT analysis were included. Total lung emphysema was measured using density mask technique with a -950 HU threshold. An automated program measured mean wall thickness (WT), wall area percent (WA%) and pi10 in six segmental bronchi. Separate multivariate analyses examined the relative influence of airway measures and emphysema on SGRQ and BODE.
In separate models predicting SGRQ score, a one unit standard deviation (SD) increase in each airway measure predicted higher SGRQ scores (for WT, 1.90 points higher, p=0.002; for WA%, 1.52 points higher, p=0.02; for pi10, 2.83 points higher p<0.001). The comparable increase in SGRQ for a one unit SD increase in percent emphysema in these models was relatively weaker, significant only in the pi10 model (for percent emphysema, 1.45 points higher, p=0.01). In separate models predicting BODE, a one unit SD increase in each airway measure predicted higher BODE scores (for WT, 1.07 fold increase, p<0.001; for WA%, 1.20 fold increase, p<0.001; for pi10, 1.16 fold increase, p<0.001). In these models, emphysema more strongly influenced BODE (range 1.24-1.26 fold increase, p<0.001).
Emphysema and airway disease both relate to clinically important parameters. The relative influence of airway disease is greater for SGRQ; the relative influence of emphysema is greater for BODE.
Imaging; COPD; emphysema
This review proposes a critical reassessment (based entirely on published evidence) of the following seven common beliefs about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): (1) COPD is one disease. (2) There is a valid definition for COPD. (The current definition includes cases of irreversible asthma and bronchiectasis, and occasionally, other obstructive lung conditions). (3) Irreversible asthma in smokers and COPD cannot be differentiated. (4) A “chronic bronchitis” form of COPD exists and is characterized by blue bloater status and normal carbon monoxide diffusion studies. (5) Phenotyping has no bearing on medication choice in COPD. (6) Computerized scoring of lung attenuation on CT scans can diagnose emphysema. (Emphysema scores overlap in irreversible asthma and COPD); however, qualitative visual changes may be useful for differentiation. (7) A definable entity called the overlap (of COPD and asthma) syndrome exists. Conflict over the abovementioned points denies patients proper phenotype-guided therapy and encourages a multidrug approach to COPD management. The recently coined term, overlap syndrome, invites a double-barreled therapy aimed at asthma and COPD, despite the absence of any agreement about how to define the syndrome and the lack of any related drug trials (in the area of inhaled corticosteroids). A diagnosis of COPD is associated with high morbidity and escalating costs, suggesting the need for a thorough new examination of the evidence.
asthma; computerized tomography; COPD; global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease; overlap syndrome